UPDATE (Friday, June 14, 10:14 am): The community-wide gathering originally planned for Fairfield Hills at 7:30 pm this evening will take place at Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West Street.
The six month anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School will be marked this Friday with private and public events.
The Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association has an event planned for Friday night at Fairfield Hills, where residents and visitors of all ages are invited to gather at the soccer fields at 7:30. The fields were the same location of vigils one week, and then two weeks after 12/14, when hundreds of people bundled in winter clothes, fighting tears and bracing temperatures, and cupping their hands around candles in an attempt to bring light into the dark.
This week’s vigil is being called a gathering, A Community-Wide Gathering For Healing and Hope-Building.
The event will be “a time of prayer, song, community and care,” according to organizers, on the six-month anniversary of 12/14. All are invited to share in a time of remembrance, hope, and healing.
“Members of the community including people representing town, school, and other local organizations including first responders and police” are planning to participate, according to Newtown Congregational Church Senior Pastor Matthew Crebbin. Members of the clergy will also participate.
“We will have representatives from the various churches including our Christian community and Islamic society, Jewish, and other faith traditions” all represented, he said this week.
Special events for Newtown residents have slowed in recent months, but they have continued. There have been fundraisers, concerts, dinners, marches and protests, and countless special events.
Residents have tried to be kind to each other, and others have made a point to wear special wristbands, or pins, or even a limited edition nail polish, in an effort to bond together, find strength, to heal.
Newtown’s clergy association has begun offering monthly interfaith gatherings. Friday, June 14, will be the first vigil, or prayer event, or solemn gathering specifically to mark an anniversary of 12/14 in a few months, however.
“I think we recognize that anniversaries bring up all kinds of feelings and emotions for people. What we recognize is that for some people, they would rather not even acknowledge an anniversary, and for others it’s very important to have something,” said Rev Crebbin. “For the clergy, we recognize that many people are in many different places for people on their journey.
“For some, the grief is still very, very raw. Others may be trying to figure out different ways to transition into what life after December 14 is all about,” he added. “What we’re trying to acknowledge is that we can all be in different places, but we are still a community. We are all on the same journey.”
All are welcome to Friday night’s event. Attendees should bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating.
There will also be an opportunity for those gathered to add messages to banners that will be sent to Oklahoma, to send hope to those affected by last month’s fatal tornadoes.
In the event of rain, the gathering will be in the sanctuary of Newtown Congregational Church, at 14 West Street.
For additional information call the Congregational church, 203-426-9024.
Time For Prayer And Reflection
“The Interfaith Clergy is encouraging faith communities to mark the occasion as they see fit themselves,” said Rev Crebbin. Some houses of worship will have their sanctuaries open for quiet prayer and reflection on Friday, and a few will be ringing their bells at 9:30 am, “in memory of those who have been lost and in the hope that a way of peace and compassion is within our reach.
“We thought it was appropriate,” Rev Crebbin said on Tuesday, June 11, “being that time of that day, to let people do what they need. For people to be in their own church, and individuals, in their own way, to observe what they feel is appropriate for them.”
Christ the King Lutheran Church, 85 Mt Pleasant Road at Tory Lane, has been holding memorial prayer services on the 14th of each month since the beginning of the year. The church will continue with that offering this week. All are welcome. The service will begin at 7 pm.
Congregation Adath Israel, 115 Huntingtown Road, will host a special service at 6:30 (one hour earlier than its traditional Friday evening service), which will also allow congregants to attend the community event at Fairfield Hills. Members of the local chapter of B’nai B’rith Youth Organization will be renaming their chapter in honor of Noah Pozner, one of the children killed on 12/14.
“They will be offering a special presentation to Noah’s parents, Veronique and Lenny, during the service,” Rabbi Shaul Praver said this week. “BBYO has offered to rename their chapter in the name of Noah, and his parents have accepted the gesture.”
Newtown Congregational Church will also offer a time for prayer and reflection in the sanctuary beginning at 9 am on Friday. The church bell will be rung at 9:30, and then the sanctuary will remain open for at least the morning, said Rev Crebbin.
Newtown United Methodist Church will have its sanctuary open on Friday from 9 am to 2 pm. The bells of the church, at 92 Church Hill Road in Sandy Hook, will be rung at 9:30, said the Reverend E. Sue Klein.
The Reverend Jim Solomon, pastor of New Hope Community Church, will be offering grief counseling all day for anyone in the community who would like to talk. He can be reached at 203-770-3745.
Trinity Episcopal Church will also ring its bells Friday morning, according to Pastor Kathie Adams-Shepherd. The church sanctuary will open at 9, and will remain open for the rest of the day, she said.
The church has a special dedication event planned at 6 pm, for a 20-foot memorial lighthouse being installed in front of the church and then for a permanent outdoor labyrinth that was installed behind the church last weekend as a Boy Scout Eagle Project. (See separate story, “Local Scout Creates Labyrinth For Trinity Church; Dedication Friday Night”) Pastor Adams-Shepherd plans to then participate in the interfaith event at Fairfield Hills.